For almost ten years I’ve maintained an on-again, off-again relationship with online dating websites. As I’m still single it should be obvious that it’s not working for me.
I’ve been trying to determine the first time I ever opened an online dating account and as far as I can tell it was in 2003 when I created a profile on Yahoo Personals. I vaguely remember browsing for free and coming across a profile that intrigued me, which of course meant I had to put down some cash to send a message to whatever vexing minx shared my lack of social skills.
Over the years I’ve had a number of wonderful relationships with people I’ve met online, but none of them have lasted any significant amount of time. Somehow the magic hasn’t been there for me. Maybe it’s a coincidence or perhaps meeting someone online just doesn’t have the romantic ingredient that seems to be missing from my hot and meaty stew of love.
I like a relationship to be a story that you can tell someone, and I could never imagine the beginning of that story being “we met on datingsite.com”. When people asked how I met an Internet girlfriend I remember feeling disappointed and registering their disappointment as well. What a wonderful way to introduce that special someone to your friends and family.
It’s more than just the cute story, though. It means that this new person doesn’t know anything about you aside from the few paragraphs on your profile. You don’t have a shared history or mutual friends. The first few dates are usually going to be very bland as you go over your respective deal-breakers with as much charm and tact as possible. It’s not pretty.
That’s assuming you even make it to a first date. These websites seem to attract four types of people; sexual deviants, introverts, nitpickers, and the aesthetically challenged. In case you’re wondering, I’m an introverted nitpicker. I may also be aesthetically challenged and a sexual deviant, but that’s something other people would have to verify.
Most people that have dating profiles feel that they can’t find what they’re looking for in traditional ways. I have numerous barriers. I work from home, so I don’t get out a lot during the day. I don’t drink, so I don’t hang out in bars or any other places you might typically find single folks. My interests skew towards the geriatric; I’ll take a lovely cup of tea over a rock concert ten times out of ten. I don’t even like coffee. You can see how this could create problems and why dating websites seemed like a good solution to them.
They weren’t. Women treat dating websites like coffee shop windows; merely a portal to peruse the selection from a safe distance. Many still wait for men should pursue them. It’s 2012, ladies. Send a message if you’re interested. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how it’s annoying if a man asks you personal questions at a bar, but if no men message you on a dating website you feel dejected. It’s the same thing; just in a different setting.
This isn’t just some notion I have. There is research to prove it. In my scientific polling of some women I’ve known, they have almost universally said they don’t message men on dating sites. Furthermore, many of them browse anonymously so they don’t even appear in the visitor lists of the men they check it. This is what I meant by peering through the coffee shop window.
|Disney ruined romantic equality.
That’s not to say that all women follow this path. There are exceptions, two of them being my sisters who each pursued the men they love. But for the most part, I think we can agree that Disney has ruined a man’s chances to get a message from a woman on a dating website.
So, the people on the site aren’t necessarily the cream of the crop and women won’t message me. Those issues may disproportionately affect me for some reason, right? Wrong. Some intrepid fellow ran a little experiment to see how different the experience on OKCupid was for men and women. He created five dummy accounts for women and five for men, with varying degrees of attractiveness. After one week the women had received a combined total of 392 messages, while the men had only been sent 22. You read that right. Women received more than seventeen times as many messages as men. Take a look at the full experiment here.
I was admittedly a little shocked by that number, but somehow relieved. Perhaps my profile (and face) isn’t as bad as I had thought. While I may feel better about not getting barraged with messages from interested women, no statistic can change the woeful state of their profiles.
Oh, the profiles! I’m ashamed to admit that over the years I’ve probably perused thousands of them. This ranges from cursory glances to multiple read-throughs for details. Here are a few things women write on their online dating profiles that turn me right the hell off and why:
- “My friends and family mean the world to me.” This is a classic case of stating the obvious in a nauseating way. If your friends weren’t important to you, they wouldn’t be your friends. If you don’t like your family (or at least some of them) then you’ve got some issues I probably don’t want to get into.
- “I am happy going out and staying in and relaxing.” So you’re happy doing anything? OK.
- “I work hard and play hard(er).” Gag. For some reason, this line just screams that you like to drink and do blow at the club. And that you don’t have time for me during the week. Pass.
- “Just tired of the games.” I don’t want to hear what he did and how you don’t trust men because of it.
- “I love the beach and being outdoors.” So I guess that means I should, too? How come no one ever writes “I like to chain watch TV shows and eat ice cream from the container”? Besides, what am I supposed to do with that, ask you what part of the outdoors you like most?
- “I’m strong and ambitious.” So you think other women are weak and lackadaisical? That’s pretty sexist.
As of today, I’m officially done with Internet dating. Forever. No algorithm is going to find that special someone for me. I’m going to have to do it myself like people have been mostly failing to do for thousands of years. Watch out, ladies – here I come! Not tonight though. Right now it’s time to go have a nice cup of tea and watch the news. Tomorrow isn’t looking good, either. Maybe I should just be happy with my cat.
Update: It’s now 2021 and I’m realizing that 2012 Scott Carter was super bitter. After posting this, I did give up on Internet dating for around two years. In late 2014, I met Alona on Match.com. We’ve been together ever since and have two beautiful children.
I have grown as a person since I wrote this and I now more fully understand why women might not want to message men. So many of us (men) are creeps and even the slightest sign of interest from a woman can send the worst men into full stalker mode. Maybe one day we’ll live in a society where women feel safe and men won’t have to do the lion’s share of the pursuing, but we’re not there yet. This isn’t chicken or egg; it’s up to men to make dating safer for women.